Moving money is easier in some places than in others. This map shows where cash transfers work best as an antipoverty tool.
This new interactive map from the New America Foundation compiles financial access data to illustrate the payment infrastructure—ATMs, mobile phones, commercial banks—that makes it possible to cheaply get cash to people who need it.
For social safety net programs to work, participants need access to a range of financial services, and the mappers have compiled both the physical and human infrastructure components contributing to overall potential for cash transfers.
Composed of 11 different indicators, the color-coded map computes a composite ‘payment infrastructure score’ for many developing countries.
Using indicators of both population and geographic proximity, the map includes ‘layers’ assessing the prevalence of physical infrastructure, such as existing commercial banks, alternate financial institutions, ATMs and point of sale terminals. The darker the country, the higher the score and the more physical access there is to this infrastructure. "Financial literacy" is measured, too.
General patterns are clear from a glance at the map: overall financial infrastructure and potential is greater in rapidly developing countries like India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, among others, while poorer and more remote countries in Africa and Central Asia currently have lower potential.
But interactive maps like this can do more than show where the money is now. They can also show what works to raise potential for wealth creation. And investors and participants can learn what has worked elsewhere.
For example, high-potential countries including Brazil and Mexico have already implemented successful cash transfer programs, facilitated through available infrastructure.
Composite maps can show where this is feasible, and at the same time can show how “countries looking to develop access to formal financial services where few have existed in the past, such as Liberia, Lesotho, Malawi, and Burkina Faso, can often more cheaply and effectively pursue financial inclusion through other means such as mobile banking and point of service terminals, especially if the target population is the poorest of the poor,” according to the New America Foundation.
Down the road, maps like this can help people worldwide find potential routes to savings-based social programs.